So our last week in Vienna began with our last excursion in our culture class to Schloss Schönbrunn, which is the summer palace of the Hapsburgs and was modeled after Versailles in Paris. I know I mentioned walking around the gardens in an earlier post, but we did not go inside the actual castle or anything. We ended up going in this time, armed with an audio guide and hopefully enough European rudeness to successfully navigate our way through the tourists without going crazy. There were no pictures allowed in the castle, so I have nothing to offer there. But you should know that it is really pretty. There is baroque and rococo architecture everywhere, with some rooms also being influenced by east Asia. Maria Theresa was a very important person who lived there (and it was her favorite place to live actually). She had several daughters, one of the most famous being Marie Antoinette. Napoleon’s son lived and died in the palace, but he lived a lonely and very sad life and ended up dying alone at age 21. But the most famous inhabitants of the palace were Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth (Sisi). There is a long and interesting history behind the two, and I will link to wikipedia for those who care to read about it.
After we toured the palace, we found an interesting little playground with all sorts of neat things for kids to do. There were fun house mirrors, xylophones, sound wave communicators (where you stand by these satellite dish looking things and you could hear the person at the other one on the other side of the playground), and jungle gyms. After re-visiting our childhood for a bit, we ventured on to the labyrinths. We walked through a maze and climbed up this little platform in the center (but actually the end of the maze part), then we went through actual labyrinths, some of which had little puzzles throughout to do, but we didn’t have time to dwell. After that we walked up to the Gloriette, which is that building on the hill which Becca and I visited earlier in the trip. It was kind of a cloudy and icky day, so it was not nearly as nice as when Becca and I visited it, and we were rushed to get back in time for the apple strudel demonstration, which was awesome, especially since we got free samples. The last thing we got to see was the Orangery, which despite its name, does not have oranges in it.
The next day we had our final in the culture class, which was pretty easy and I ended up making an A on it, so I was happy with that. Becca, Trevor, and I also ate at ATIB (the Turkish place) again. We aren’t sure what we had, but it was good. Mine tasted like some sort of casserole actually, and it have cauliflower and broccoli in it. We also drank some Turkish tea. The guys serving us were really nice, and they asked where we came from, and when we told them America, they got pretty excited about it. My favorite exchange was when he gave us our tea and was putting sugar in it for us and then stopped and said, “anymore and you will become fat like me!” and patted his tummy. The only thing I could think of to say in reply was, “it’s too late for that, we’re Americans!” After that we went to the Penny Market and I bought chocolate like there is no tomorrow.
On Wednesday we went back to the Prater (the amusement park) because there were a couple of rides Becca and a few other people wanted to ride again. We ended up racing on possibly the most dangerous go carts ever. They went really fast, everyone almost spun out going around each corner, and there were no seat belts, just helmets. I would have preferred them have seat belts, considering I was slammed into a wall and almost fell out of the cart, but it was okay. I stayed in. However, I was really sore from it for the next three days. I also went on the most terrifying ride ever, the Black Mamba (go about a minute in). I was assured that it was the most exciting ride ever, even though every nerve in my body screamed when I looked at it. Every time I watched that ride go, I thought, “this is what death looks like…” So after much convincing, I reluctantly went. I screamed the whole time, only stopping when we were hanging upside-down to tell my friend it was the most terrifying experience of my life. Needless to say, I lost my voice completely for three days, but it was not 100% for at least a week. And as a side note, not fun.
The next day was my German final, and after that I was completely done with all of my classes. I think it at least went okay. There were a couple of things I was not completely sure on, but I was never really worried about it. Afterward a couple of us went to de-register and become tourists again. Pretty uneventful. Then Joni, Becca, and I went to Naschmarkt, which is an outdoor market. It was really interesting, but it was raining so we didn’t get to see the whole thing. I did find a couple of Asian markets, and Calpis soda, which I totally bought. We ate at a nice little restaurant, and I got fish, which was a mistake because it had bones in it. So I only ate about half of it.
The next day we went to the Albertina, which is an art museum right next to the institute. There was some really good modern art there, and we got to see works by Monet and Picasso. I would say I enjoyed 80% of the art there. The other 20% consisted of works like Black on Black, which was just a piece of canvas painted black. I was kind of mad that that was in there… Towards the end we also saw a part of the old palace which was preserved. It also had some famous works from Dürer as well as several Renaissance artists. I want to say a couple of sketches from Michelangelo were in there, but I could be wrong. After that we went to a cafe, where the waiter was incredibly rude so we left (and didn’t give him a tip!) and went to the nice little cafe beside the institute. The lady was really nice and we talked to her for about five minutes while we were paying. We ended up sampling each others cakes we bought. They were all good, but I don’t remember the names of all of them.
I think it was that night we visited one of our teachers (Pookey Rae Rae) and a student who came to Vienna last summer but was visiting after her abroad program in Spain ended. It was nice, we just sat around and talked. The most interesting part was when my roommate and I were going home. Pookey, Ella, and I all lived in the same district (the 14th) so it was not too far from our houses (maybe a 30 minute walk at the most). We had taken the Strassenbahn there when we went, but they had stopped running by the time we left, so we decided to walk instead of take the subway around (it would have taken about the same amount of time). About halfway home we saw a woman standing on the street corner, with a skirt so short we could see her actual bum, and no underwear to boot. We never thought we lived in the red light district of Vienna! So the rest of the way home, we played I Spy Prostitute. We counted 13 and we saw two get picked up. It made the whole walk home worth it.
The next day my roommate Ella and I ventured out the the 16th district in order to find the Turkish market. After navigating the Strassenbahn with only the address of the market and the maps at the station, we got there. It was a proud day. It was an interesting market. They had everything you could possibly imagine. Clothes, food, shoes, jewelery, toys, etc. Afterward we met up with Becca and did some shopping. Later we met up with those left in Vienna (as people from our group were starting to leave) and went to get ice cream and then we watched Carmen at the Rathaus (City Hall). It was really good, but I was about to freeze to death and it was also raining.
The next day we all met up by the Opera House and rented bikes and rode all around the city. We ended up stopping at another church, which was also really pretty (didn’t find one that wasn’t, actually). We rode for maybe an hour and a half all said and done, and stopped at an imbiss and got doener kabap (kind of like gyros, only Turkish). It was the best one I had eaten in Vienna, mostly because this time it was lamb. After that Becca and I planned out our return trip to Dublin (which we ended up not really following). Then we met back up with some people and rode bikes again around the Prater. It was pretty awesome, but I was really tired and hungry at that point so we turned around after a little over an hour. Then we went to the Stadtpark, which was a nice pretty little park. Which, I will have to make a separate post for this, but I will mention it briefly, there were a lot of creepers and weirdos that day. That aside, it was a fun filled last day in Vienna.
After the Stadtpark, I made the rest of my spaghetti for Becca (but we only had enough for two people, sadly or I would have invited more people). It was nice and we ended up talking for a long time. I also said goodbye to my host mom’s daughter (my host mom went on vacation a couple of days before and we said goodbye to her then, and she also gave us Manner while we gave her flowers.) So it was an overall relaxing end to a busy day. The next day our plane left kind of early, but that will be in the next post. There is a lot to talk about there and this post is already too long.